This summer marks 10 years of serving the Lord at Heartland Camp for myself. In those 10 years I have had a number of different roles, photographer, wrangler, pool cleaner, intern, kitchen cook, housekeeper, day camp counselor, summer staff alumni, visitor, volunteer, director. In those ten years I have seen so many lives changed in small ways and in big changes. But of all the weeks spent at camp, none of them made as big a mark on me and other summer staff as friendship camp.
For the last three years I have had the joy to direct friendship camp (and Service Partnership camp or Service P as it is usually called) with two amazing women, Brittany and Morgan. We’ve since traded in our counseling roles to run this show (so to speak), which allows us to see the impact this camp has on the high school service P and the summer staff. This year we have the joy to share this camp with volunteer staff members from Stronghold Presbyterian Camp in Chicago. We also have many other volunteers coming in to help out with crafts, transportation, nursing, and some just come to help for a few hours when they can.
Our high school service P campers get to be here all week and cram in all the best of camp into a day and a half before our friendship campers come. Our friendship campers (adults with exceptionalities) arrive Tuesday morning and everyone at camp gets a hands on experience with what the love of Christ should be. As a director of this camp we work closely with the Service P high schoolers, they summer staff and the friendship campers. At the end of each day when the friendship campers have gone to bed we gather the Service P campers and talk about the day. We share our highs (the best part of our day) discuss challenges. Tuesday night the highs all centered on how much joy and love and how welcomed our high schoolers were by our friendship campers. Our lows Tuesday were centered around the campers that were not able to come and how much they were missed.
Because that's the thing about friendship camp. We all come in with this idea that we are going to serve these men and women who society can marginalize and see as less than, but in reality we all learn from them. We learn what it really means to welcome everyone, we learn what it means to feel joy and sadness. We learn what it means to love someone because Christ first loved us. Our high school Service P campers live out matthew 25:40.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
And in doing so they leave knowing that in the kingdom of God that those that a seen as least on our society are the total opposite in the kingdom we all strive for.
and in the 10 years I have been involved at heartland camp that has been true every single year.
Amy Lu Folkedahl